Levin Amendment to End Harmful Seismic Blasting in the Atlantic Ocean Clears House with Passage of Moratorium on Offshore Drilling

September 11, 2019
Press Release
Congressman Levin’s bipartisan amendment prohibits the use of a technique to survey for fossil fuels that is harmful to marine life in the Atlantic Ocean.

A bipartisan amendment authored by Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) to end the use of seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean today was passed as a part of the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941), a bill to protect coastal economies and environments from the far-reaching and detrimental impacts of oil spills.

“Seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean would wreak havoc on marine life and move us further away from a clean energy future,” Congressman Levin said. “A legal prohibition on seismic blasting, which my amendment includes, is the surest way to prevent such testing in the Atlantic. Today’s bill is about the health of our oceans, the viability of coastal economies and protecting species that humanity has been pushing closer to extinction. I’m proud to join Republican and Democratic colleagues to say that our oceans and coasts are sacred and that we can, and must, do better.”

Congressman Levin led the amendment with Congressmen Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ-04), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA-08) and Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ-02). The bill has received the support of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, Oceana, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Seismic blasting in the Atlantic makes no sense,” said Michael Jasny, Director of Marine Mammal Protection at NRDC. “It’s an open door to the dirty future that communities have rejected, and a senseless blow to the health of our coasts and oceans. This amendment would bar this destructive practice from Maine to southern Florida.”

Seismic blasting involves using airguns fired from ships to release blasts of air through the ocean and into the seafloor, which creates one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean. According to Oceana, noise from airguns can disturb, injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton, the base of the food web, to large whales. The practice also threatens the safety and livelihoods of millions of people involved in the tourism, recreation, fishing and associated sectors.

The House today passed H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, with Congressman Levin’s amendment, and H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act. Together the bills would place a permanent moratorium on offshore oil and gas leases in parts of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.